As with everything in life, golf is always changing and adapting to the times. The 2019 season is no different, as the Rules of Golf are set to undergo some important changes in less than a month.
Some of the major changes stem from some controversy that has struck players over the last few years. The first major rule change that seems like common sense is that there will not be a penalty enforced if a player accidentally moves their ball or ball marker on the green. This penalty was central for Dustin Johnson on the final green of the 2016 U.S. Open but now players can simply put the ball back where it was, no harm no foul.
The pace of play has also been an issue on the PGA TOUR in recent memory and the Rules of Golf are looking to address this in a simple way. Instead of being allotted five minutes to search for a lost ball, the time has now been reduced to only three minutes. This won’t fix all pace of play problems in the game but it is certainly a good start.
Bryson DeChambeau of the United States takes a drop on the eighth hole as a rules official looks on during the continuation of the weather delayed second round of the 2018 PGA Championship at… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Players have also complained about the drop policy when a ball is unplayable. Previously, players were required to drop the ball from shoulder height to have some random result of where the ball lands. The new rule lowers the drop height to a player’s knee, thus allowing for the possibility of slightly more improved lies versus a shoulder-height drop.
Two other major rule updates include changes to the double hit rule and the flagstick rule. Tiger Woods was almost penalized for double hitting a ball this past weekend but that rule will no longer be in play.
As for the flagstick, in 2019 players will be allowed to leave the pin in from anywhere on the green if they like, not just from the rough or fringe around the green. Players like Bryson DeChambeau have already begun to talk about how they will utilize this change on a majority of putts.
While these are just some highlights of the rules that are changing when the new year hits, there are several more that could affect your competitions. If you’re interested in learning more about the rule changes, I would recommend doing some more research, especially for rules that are left to the discretion of local courses before the new year begins.
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